Never say it’s gotten as bad as it can and couldn’t possibly get worse, because that is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy. But honestly, I am shocked and disgusted at the turn of events in the past few days regarding the National Security Administration’s domestic spying. Spying is an extremely strong word with the negative connotation that goes with it. But to quote Shakespeare, “A rose is a rose, by any other name.”
And tracking citizen’s internet records and phone calls is exactly what it sounds like; our government is spying on its own citizens and has been doing so for decades, with most of us blissfully ignorant, believing we live in a free nation and are not subject to the indignities suffered by citizens of other countries. It turns out that in regards to the sanctity of our own homes, we are all in the same boat, whether we live in Iran, North Korea, Syria or the United States of America. Wow, I never thought I would ever compare our right to privacy to that of individuals who live in dictatorships. It’s as if we are living the lives of the East Germans in the film The Lives Of Others that documented the Stassi’s (Secret Police) surveillance of its citizens and frankly that scares the crap out of me.
But, even more frightening, is the reaction to the Whistle Blower. Instead of being hailed as a patriot and a hero, he is being vilified as a traitor and a spy. Spy? I think the news has confused him with the NSA, as we are all aware of who the spy is and that is our own government. The focus should be on the importance and relevance of the message, rather than the messenger, as it is a distraction from the real issue, the erosion of our right to privacy in our own homes, guaranteed by the constitution of the United States of America.
This man was forced to seek asylum and, ironically, is being sheltered by China, who recently was chastised by the U.S. for failing to stop theft of intellectual property, i.e., industrial espionage. Sound familiar?
Whistle Blowers are crucial to a democracy and need to be protected, lest people be too fearful to call attention to grievous misconduct or dangerous situations or practices. They protect all of us and we would be much more vunerable without them.
What would have happened if no one called attention to the dumping of chemicals and resulting health problems in Love Canal, the safety problems at several US nuclear facilities, the Valerie Plame scandal or the tobacco companies concealment of the dangers of smoking which contributed to the deaths of countless Americans? These are just a few examples of instances where courageous individuals have stepped forward, driven by their conscience and a sense of civic responsibility, to inform and protect us.
But if the reaction to them is anything like the response to Ed Snowdon, I worry that people will think long and hard before they take such a stand in the future. You, our government, is creating a climate of fear. Many horrible crimes against humanity have been committed in a national frenzy driven by fear and ignorance. Standing silent in the wake of injustice, due to intimidation and apprehensiveness about reprisal is no way to live, especially in a country founded on the principals of freedom and individual rights.